The Shohei Ohtani show turned into the Mookie Betts show
ANAHEIM, Calif. — They came to see Shohei Ohtani pitch. They left talking about how Mookie Betts hit.
Betts hit three home runs on Tuesday night as the Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels, 10-1. The game drew a crowd of 44,822, the second largest at Angel Stadium since it was renovated in 1998.
Ohtani was a big draw; the 23-year-old rookie righthander from Japan won his first two starts, striking out 18. But Betts led off the game with a home run to left center field, the start of a night that saw him reach base five times.
Ohtani lasted only two innings, giving up three runs on four hits and two walks as the Red Sox wore him out. Betts later homered off Luke Bard and Cam Bedrosian. It was the third three-home run game of his career.
“It’s pretty fun any time you can do something like that,” Betts said. “It’s huge to help the team. Just ride the wave.”
The only other Red Sox player to hit three home runs in a game three times is Ted Williams.
Betts bruised his left foot on Saturday and missed Sunday’s game. That he would be in the lineup against Ohtani wasn’t decided until he came to the park and said he felt fine.
Betts was on deck when Brock Holt grounded into an inning-ending double play in the ninth inning. So he missed his chance to become the 17th player in major league history to homer four times in a game.
“He specifically told me, ‘I’m going to get you up to bat again,’ ” Betts said. “I might have words with him.”
The 14-2 Red Sox have won five straight and 14 of 15 after an Opening Day loss. They have the best record in baseball.
Manager Alex Cora isn’t surprised. When the Sox won 14 of their last 15 games in spring training, he felt the team had come together.
“We’ve been playing good baseball for a month and a half now,” he said. “One thing about this group, they show up every day.”
Ohtani allowed three runs on four hits and two walks, throwing 66 pitches, only 34 for strikes, before he was taken out of the game. Ohtani had a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand, but he was likely coming out of the game regardless given the pitch count.
“I felt like it would be fine today, (but) in the high intensity of a game, it didn’t hold up too well,” Ohtani said through a translator. “But I’m not going to be at the top of my game every start. When I don’t have my best stuff, I still have to fight through the game.”
The Sox came into the game determined not to swing at Ohtani’s split-finger fastball, an impressive pitch that usually dives as it crosses the plate. Of the 13 splitters Ohtani threw, only one was offered at.
“That was the main thing. We know that’s one of his bread-and-butter pitches,” Betts said. “If you can lay off that, you may have some success. But he also throws 100, too.”
Betts took two splitters in the first inning before he homered and four when he drew a nine-pitch walk in the second inning. He also fouled one off in that sequence.
“That wasn’t the same split at his last outing. But you still have to be disciplined,” Cora said. “That was pretty solid. . . . They had a great game plan and they executed it.
That the Sox worked so many deep counts wasn’t part of the plan. It just worked out that way.
“We backed him in a corner and made him throw some pitches he didn’t want to,” Betts said.
Jackie Bradley Jr. singled with one out in the second inning. Christian Vazquez drew a walk before Holt dropped an opposite-field single to left field to drive Bradley in.
After Betts saw nine pitches to draw a walk, Andrew Benintendi’s sacrifice fly scored Vazquez.
In his first two starts this season, both against Oakland, Ohtani allowed three runs. The Athletics were 4 of 43. The Sox were 4 of 9 and struck out once.
Bard, the brother of former Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard, relieved Ohtani in the third inning. He allowed home runs by Bradley, Holt, Betts, and Rafael Devers as the Sox built a 9-1 lead after four innings behind David Price.
Bradley and Devers each hit 438-foot shots.
Price (2-0) allowed one run on three hits and struck out six with three walks over five innings. It was his first start since leaving last Wednesday’s game against the Yankees with a numb hand on what was a cold night.
That it was 67 degrees at first pitch helped.
“It was a little warmer. But it doesn’t matter about the weather, you’ve got to go out there and get outs,” Price said. “That was a lot of offensive support tonight early. That’s always huge.”
Red Sox starters have a 2.05 earned run average and 1.06 WHIP.
Brian Johnson relieved Price and threw three scoreless innings.
Bradley was 3 for 5 and drove in two runs. Holt was 2 for 5 and had three RBIs. The Sox finished with 15 hits. They have scored 75 runs in the last nine games.
As Betts was talking to reporters, Price wedged his way into the crowd and threw an arm around him.
“I didn’t say Mookie’s name in my interview,” Price said. “That’s my bad. Great job. Great night. You’re a good player.”